While investing in the crypto market, it doesn’t take long before you run across Stellar Lumens. This unique cryptocurrency features a rocket ship blasting off as its logo and a catchy name that makes you envision futuristic space travel. Aside from their savvy marketing, Stellar brings a lot to the cryptocurrency sector.
Stellar is a distributed payment infrastructure that features an open-source code. The platform entered the market with the goal to facilitate a more streamlined approach to international money transfers such as remittance payments. Today, the Stellar ecosystem is known for its affordable, fast, and reliable transfer capabilities. Specifically, the platform facilitates frictionless cross-border transactions.
A New Approach
Unlike its main competitor in the market, Ripple, Stellar focuses on the needs of the individual rather than large financial institutions. In this manner, the platform is able to seamlessly connect individuals, institutions, and payment systems throughout the world. Today, the platform consists of an international consortium of individuals and entities located in every region.
How Does Stellar Work?
Stellar leverages decentralization to improve on the current transfer systems in use. The platform incorporates a distributed ledger to improve efficiency and transparency for users. This ledger maintains all of the network’s data including its transaction history to transfer systems in use. This ledger maintains an unbroken record of all transactions since day one.
Using the Stellar platform is easy. Similarly to popular payment processors such as Paypal, the process begins when you upload funds on the network. In the Stellar ecosystem, these funds upload to Anchors. The anchor functions as a medium between fiat and Stellar’s distributed ledger. In this way, Anchors serve a critical purpose in the Stellar ecosystem.
Once your funds are available on Stellar’s distributed ledger, it’s easy to send anywhere in the world. For example, let’s say you wanted to send $1000USD to a friend in the EU. You would just upload your USD to a Stellar anchor to receive a USD credit on the network.
Next, you could transfer your credit over to your EU companion. At the moment of transfer, Stellar would automatically convert your USD credit over to EUR. Importantly, the platform automatically seeks out the lowest exchange rate. Once the funds are converted they deposit in your friend’s account. Here they can withdraw the funding directly.
Amazingly, this entire process takes place in seconds and completely behind the scenes. In this way, Stellar is able to fulfill its goal to simplify money transfer systems for the average person. The platform provides a truly streamlined approach to the market.
Support for Multiple Fiat Currencies
Impressively, Stellar is able to accomplish this task through the use of three specific protocols. In the first scenario, stellar converts your funds from its order book and simply facilitates a streamlined exchange. In the next process, Stellar converts your funds to XLM. Then, your funds are transferred internationally. Once they arrive at their destination, the XLM is sold and the local fiat currency. In this scenario, XLM is used as an intermediary.
Critically, sending cryptocurrencies globally costs only a fraction of the costs of traditional money transfer systems. In the current market infrastructure, a user could end up losing over 7% of their funds during the transfer. These lost funds are used to cover a host of third-parties involved in the fiat transaction.
Stellar’s platform operates in a smart manner that makes it possible to accomplish complex chain reactions. For example, you may find that there is no direct currency pair for your desired trade. In this instance, Stellar is able to complete a multiple trade transaction. Imagine your USD first converting to GBP, then, GBP to EUR.
Another unique aspect of the Stellar is the ability to place exchange orders directly within the platform. These orders go instantly on the public ledger. Here you can choose between a host of other currencies. Importantly, you can exchange your funds for both Fiat and cryptocurrencies using this system.
Even though Stellar was designed to handle digital representations of any currency, the developers still choose to create their own native crypto called XLM. In fact, all Stellar users must hold a tiny bit of XLM to participate in the network. This requirement is meant to prevent the ledger from becoming filled with spam or other uselessness.
The decision to create a unique currency for this task stems from Stellar’s desire to remain free from any particular currency in general. For example, if Stellar required you to hold a certain amount of USD, then the platform would be somewhat tethered to the performance of USD, or, at the very least, it would be tied to the US market. This is a situation that developers were keen to avoid.
Unlike most cryptocurrencies, Stellar Lumens don’t require nodes to mine blocks of transactions. Nor do network participants receive awards for their efforts to validate the blockchain. This approach is in stark contrast to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Notably, the firm decided it was better to issue 100 billion XLM during the platform’s launch. From there, the supply of Stellar would see an increase of 1% every year for around 6 years.
Critically, developers altered this approach in October 2019. Developers decided it was more conducive to their goals to reduce the supply of XLM moving forward. As such, they reduced the amount of XLM down to 50 billion. Additionally, there are now no plans to issue anymore XLM in the future.
This strategy leaves around 20 billion XLM in the market currently with another 30 billion retained by the firm. These retained funds are to go towards the expansion of the XLM ecosystem. Tasks such as development and marketing are the main use of the funds per Stellar’s plan.
A quick glimpse of Stellar’s capabilities and it’s easy to recognize that this platform came from the mind of an experienced blockchain professional. The founder of Stellar is none other than the Crypto heavyweight Jed McCaleb. McCaleb is best known for founding the now-defunct Mt.Gox exchange.
At one point, Mt.Gox controlled 70% of the world’s Bitcoin trading volume. However, a major hack saw the exchange dissolve after losing $450million in Bitcoin. Notably, McCaleb had already left the firm and sold his stake prior to the hack.
Notably, McCaleb also founded Stellar’s main competitor, Ripple. However, he left the company in 2013 citing irreconcilable differences in the direction of the company. Not surprisingly, the two cryptocurrencies share many aspects, mainly, their goal to facilitate cross-border payments in a more streamlined manner.
Stellar’s board is nothing short of, well, Stellar. The board includes some of the biggest names in the industry. The company managed to secure Stripe CEO, Patrick Collison, WordPress Founder, Matt Mullenweg, and AngelList Founder, Naval Ravikant.
How to Buy XLM Tokens
Investing in Stellar Lumens is easy when you know where to look. First, it’s key that you understand that Lumens trade under both the XLM and STR ticker depending on the platform you are on. The firm decided to change its ticker from STR to XLM years ago, but some exchanges decided to keep the original ticker regardless of the choice.
The majority of XLM trading volume originates from three main exchanges – Bittrex, Poloniex, and Binance. Crucially, all of these platforms support XLM to BTC trading pairs. If you want to convert USD to XLM, you must first purchase BTC from your favorite exchange and then convert it over to XLM. If you want to purchase XLM directly with USD, you will need to head over to the exchange Kraken to make your purchase.
Where to Store XLM
When it comes to storage of your XLM, you have some options to consider. If you plan to continuously trade your Stellar, it’s going to be more convenient, but less secure, to keep your XLM on your favorite exchange. As long as you aren’t trading too much, exchanges such as Binance provide a decent level of security for your holdings.
Once you are ready to stop your day trading strategy, you can always send your XLM over to a mobile wallet such as Jaxx. These platforms are the easiest to operate and use. In most instances, you can download your wallet app and begin using it in under ten minutes. Best of all, you always have access to your XLM if you need it.
Where to Buy XLM
If you want a safer approach to XLM storage, you should consider utilizing Stronghold. Stronghold is the distributed exchange for the Stellar network. There is even a desktop client to support your storage needs.
If you are looking for the most secure way to keep your XLM stored, there is no better option than a hardware wallet. Companies such as Ledger, provide the market a valuable service through their hardware. This type of wallet is the safest because it remains offline when not in use. This storage strategy also goes by the name “cold storage.” The only downside is that you would need to keep your wallet on you if you plan to use your XLM.
To The Moon
Given the sheer level of expertise Stellar possess and their unique approach to the market, it’s no surprise that XLM is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world today. You can expect this popularity to rise as more people enter the blockchain sector. For now, you can illuminate your crypto investment strategy at any of the exchanges listed in this guide.
Ledger Nano X Review – A Secure Hardware Wallet for Advanced HODLs
Ledger has an impeccable reputation when it comes to bitcoin hardware wallets. They have two products and the Ledger Nano X is the more advanced of the two which is perfect for the advanced cryptocurrency investor who is looking at protecting their digital assets. When it comes to quality, functionality and security this is comparable to Trezor’s Model T but with a more slick design.
In this review we will analyze the design, functionality, and most importantly the security.
What is the Ledger Nano X?
The Ledger Nano X is a premium version of the Ledger Nano S. This device is extremely compact and it can easily fit in your pocket which makes it perfect for traveling.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the device has an inscription which reads ‘vires in numeris’, this is Latin for ‘strength in numbers’. This is in reference to the cryptographic security contained in the device.
It has multiple security features and it is intuitive to use.
This device is an advanced option to keep security accessible for anyone who has cryptocurrency.
Ledger Nano X: First Impression
Nano X comes in a simple package and the box contains the device itself, 1 USB cable, one keychain and a key ring, and multiple recovery sheets for writing down the seed phrase.
The advantage of this device is how it does not stand out, from a distance most people would assume it is a simple USB stick.
Operating the Ledger Nano X
Whether you are an advanced digital assets holder, or a novice you do not need to be worried. The instructions that are provided in the package are simple and guide you on how you can set-up the Ledger Nano X.
What you should always remember is to write down the recovery seed on the provided recovery sheet and save it in a safe place. I would recommend that wherever you save it, that you choose to save two backups of the recovery seed. I personally choose to backup both in electronic and paper form. This means you will need to scan the recovery sheet and save it in a secret folder on your computer and make sure that you do not name it with anything that is associated with bitcoin, Ledger or cryptocurrency. For those who are unaware, the recovery seed is what you need to access your funds in the scenario where the device is either damaged or lost.
Again, the entire process is simple, you connect the Nano X to your computer, access the Ledger website, and then install Ledger Live. From there you click on ‘Initialize a new Ledger device’, and you are on your way.
Ledger Nano X: Security Features
Ledger takes security seriously. They offer the CC EAL5+ Security. What this means:
CC: Stands for common criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation. This is based on an international standard (ISO/IEC 15408) for computer security certification. When it comes to a particular product, it must meet the base standards of the common criteria.
EAL: The Evaluation Assurance Level is a category ranking assigned to an IT product or system, after a Common Criteria security evaluation. The five levels of EAL are:
- EAL1 — functionally tested
- EAL2 — structurally tested
- EAL3 — methodically tested and checked
- EAL4 — methodically designed, tested and reviewed
- EAL5 — semi-formally designed and tested
Ledger ensures that all of their hardware wallets including the Nano X are fully-certified on the market certified by ANSSI, the French cybersecurity agency.
Another security element is the device does not arrive with pre-installed software– that’s installed during the set-up process. It is PIN-protected and allows you to label your device and customize the home screen to make it unique to you. You will install Ledger Live software during the sign-up process.
The Ledger Nano X is a great way to protect your cryptocurrency and offers all of the advanced security solutions that you would find with its director competitor the Trezor Model T. The safety of this device and the fact that it resembles a simple USB stick makes this this device a popular favorite for members of the cryptocurrency community.
Investing in Litecoin (LTC) – Everything You Need to Know
It would be impossible to venture into the crypto space for long without eventually running across one of the oldest and most reputable coins in existence – Litecoin (LTC). Litecoin is an open-ѕоurсe рееr-tо-рееr digital cash system similar to Bitcoin. Importantly, Litecoin was developed to improve on some of the shortcomings of the world’s first succesful cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. To this extent, Litecoin has also been labeled the ‘silver’ to Bitcoin’s gold by many in the sector.
What is Litecoin?
Litecoin was one of the earliest cryptocurrencies to enter the market. Consequently, it remains one of the largest coins in the sector based on market capitalization. This hugely popular coin can be found on nearly every crypto exchange. Also, it’s one of the most widely accepted cryptocurrencies in the world. You can use Litecoin for purchasing goods, services, or even investing in other crypto projects as they emerge.
Like most cryptocurrencies, Litecoin utilizes blockchain technology to remain decentralized. Decentralized currencies differ from traditional fiat currencies in many ways. Primarily, they are not issued from a central authority such as a government. Instead, Litecoins are produced via a сrурtоgrарhіс рrоtосоl. Officially, Litecoin’s are released under MIT/X11 lісеnѕеѕ.
How Does Litecoin Work?
Litecoin functions in a manner very similar to Bitcoin. In fact, this online payment system was directly inspired by Satoshi Nakamoto and his release of the Bitcoin protocol. Many people are surprised to learn that Litecoin was one of the earliest Bitcoin forks in the market. As such, this cryptocurrency is technically almost іdеntісаl tо Bіtсоіn, albeit with some crucial differences.
LTC’s developer, Charlie Lee began his Litecoin project by borrowing the core code from Bitcoin. He then made several important modifications to the protocol. One of the main upgrades he introduced was the reduction of the block approval time from 10 minutes down to 2.5 minutes. Just like with Bitcoin, these blocks contain the next batch of transactions awaiting approval.
Reduced Block Time
The block time reduction gave Litecoin more scalability than its predecessors. Notably, LTC is now 4x faster than Bitcoin in terms of transactions per second (tps). Lee also adjusted the transaction fee model within LTC to make it more appealing to the masses. Specifically, Litecoin’s fee structure is 1/50th the size of Bitcoin.
This fee structure is one of the main draws to the platform. Amazingly, it only costs 1/1000 of a LTC to process a transaction. This miniscule fee doesn’t change depending on the size of your transaction either. You pay the same amount regardless of its size. This strategy provides a huge upgrade to the current market leaders. For example, PayPal charges a 3% fee for every transaction conducted within their network.
LTC Total Supply
One of the main draws to Litecoin, and cryptocurrencies, in general, is their finite supply. Unlike fiat currency, which governments can print at will, Litecoins are only produced at set intervals following the approval of a block of transactions to the network. In total, there will only ever be 84 million Litecoins produced. Interestingly, this amount was the result of simple calculations on the part of the developers.
Basically, developers decided that since Litecoin processes transactions at 4x the speed of Bitcoin, it would be wise to provide the network with 4x the tokens. Critically, this fixed amount of coins also means that inflation will not affect the overall value of the currency as time progresses. The more time that goes by, the more value that each Litecoin should hold. As of today, there are already over 65,177,458 Litecoins in the market.
Many traders view Litecoin as a more sustainable option within the market. Their views are not without reason. For one, LTC often experiences less volatility than its big brother Bitcoin. Also, the development team behind this project is a bit more advantageous than Bitcoin’s development team. Specifically, LTC developers have proven their desire to remain technological ahead of the competition time and time again. The platform was the first to add the Segregated Witness update.
Additionally, Litecoin began processing Lightning Network transactions months before BTC. In May of 2017, LTC adopted the Segregated Witness protocol months before Bitcoin was able to do so. That same year, the development team behind the project also conducted its first Lightning Network transaction from Zürich, Germany to San Francisco.
History of Litecoin
Litecoin’s epic rise to fame begins in October 2011 with the publishing of the project’s whitepaper by long time Bitcoinist, Charlie Lee. Notably, Lee was a former employee of Google who had followed Bitcoin since its early days. At the time, Lee recognized the value of Bitcoin but noticed that there were some areas that if improved, could help propel large scale blockchain adoption amongst the masses. Lee’s improvements focused on reduced transaction times, fees, and the elimination of concentrated mining pools.
Impressively, it only took Litecoin 2 years to achieve a $1 billion market capitalization. The coin continues to dominate the market today. Notably, Litecoin reached its official all-time high of $360.93 on December 18th, 2017. Incredibly, this value represented an 8200% increase over the tokens value just a year prior. At that time, Litecoin had a market value of just around $4.40.
Lee Steps Out of The Pilot Seat
In an interesting turn of events, Lee decided to sell all of his Litecoin holdings in December of 2017. At the time, Lee explained via a Reddit post why he made the decision. He stated that he had concerns over his growing influence on the platform. In his now-famous posts, Lee is quoted stating “Whenever I tweet about Litecoin price or even just good or bad news, I get accused of doing it for personal benefit. Some people even think I short LTC! So in a sense, it is a conflict of interest for me to hold LTC and tweet about it because I have so much influence.” In the end, he decided it was best to avoid the conflict of interest that comes with his position as LTC’s founder.
How to Buy Litecoin
Luckily, buying LTC has never been easier. Due to its huge popularity, you can acquire LTC from every major exchange in operation today. The process for this approach changes slightly for each platform, but in general, it all works the same. The first step is to fill out the registration information if you are new to the platform. Once you complete your registration, you can begin purchasing LTC directly. There are two main ways to obtain this coin.
The first way is direct with fiat currency. Most exchanges offer LTC/Fiat pairing directly. When this is the case, you can simply load your fiat currency onto your exchange wallet. Then, select purchase Litecoin and just like that, you are good to go. You will see your LTC appear in your exchange wallet in seconds after making your purchase.
The second way to buy LTC is through the use of an intermediary. Keenly, if your exchange doesn’t offer LTC/Fiat pairings, you will need to purchase Bitcoin first. Then you can trade it for Litecoin. The great news is Litecoin is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world. As such, you can trade nearly any token or coin for some Litecoin with ease.
How to Mine Litecoin
Mining Litecoin is very similar to Bitcoin. The network utilizes a consensus mechanism to ensure the state of the network remains valid. However, unlike Bitcoin, Litecoin does away with the SHA-256 consensus mechanism in favor of a different protocol known as “scrypt mining.” Proponents of Litecoin like the mining distribution method for LTC’s scrypt mining which is believed to be a fairer model. Scrypt allows consumer-grade hardware such as GPU to mine Litecoin successfully.
Critically, you can still mine LTC on a Mac or Windows PC. Miners can choose to go about the task either solo or with the help of a mining pool, something no longer possible for Bitcoin mining. While mining Litecoin today can be done with a regular home PC, it would be very slow. It’s much wiser to purchase a mining rig that is specifically designed for the scrypt mining algorithms. This strategy will provide you with better results and increase your chances of becoming the next miner to validate transactions and add them to the blockchain.
There are 14,400 Litecoins mined every day. This mining schedule equates to every 2.5 minutes, a LTC block is mined. The node that adds the next block of transactions to the blockchain receives a reward of 25 newly generated Litecoins. Similar to Bitcoin’s strategy, mining rewards half over time. In October 2015, Litecoin rewards were halved. Notably, the halving will continue at regular intervals until the 84,000,000th Litecoin is mined.
Where Can I Store Litecoin?
When it comes to storing your Litecoin, there is no shortage of options to consider. For small daily trading activities, you can leave your Litecoin in your exchange wallet. However, it’s worth mentioning that this is the least safe way to store cryptocurrency nowadays. The next options to consider are PC or mobile wallets. Today, there are a plethora of Litecoin capable wallets available to the public. In most instances, these wallets will allow you to store your Litecoin alongside some of your other favorite cryptocurrencies.
The safest way to store your Litecoin is via a hardware wallet. Hardware wallets are specially designed devices that enable you to store your cryptocurrency without keeping your wallet online. In this way, they provide you with more security since hackers have no way to access your holdings. The main drawback of hardware wallets is their costs. In most instances, a reliable wallet (Trezor or Ledger) can run you over $100. Compared to a free mobile app, this could be a stretch for those only handling small amounts of cryptocurrency at this time.
Trading Litecoin is the same as trading any of the top cryptocurrencies. You will need to monitor the market to get a firm understanding of the current environment. Additionally, monitoring the news for Litecoin developments is another important step. For example, this week Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law officially recognizing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Litecoin.
Positive news such as large scale adoption or regulatory approval usually translates directly into gains for the coin. Reversely, you can sense impending market losses when there is negative news coverage of the crypto market in general. Amazingly, analysts have reported that Litecoin has a habit of leading Bitcoin in terms of market movement. This first movement has led many analysts to monitor Litecoin in an attempt to better capture Bitcoin’s potential market movements.
LTC’s Continues to See Expansion in Different Ways
Every week, Litecoin experiences some form of expansion of its network or capabilities. Just this week, The Kyber Network, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange, listed the Ethereum-compatible pLTC token. While this project is not directly Litecoin, it clearly utilizes the coin’s reputation and value as part of the strategy. The pLTC token is a Litecoin-pegged token that lives on the Ethereum blockchain. Keenly, pLTC is pegged 1:1 to Litecoin.
Officially, the token launched on July 29, 2020, intending to unlock liquidity within the sector by enabling more cross-chain asset transactions. The development team behind the pTokens project explained the concept as yet another way for users to explore the world of decentralized finance. Today, there are several pToken in existence. All exist on the Ethereum blockchain but are pegged to underlying digital assets.
Today, Litecoin remains one of the top ten cryptocurrencies in the world. The token currently lists a market value of $57.33 with a total value of $3,736,382,516 (335,419 BTC) via CoinMarketCap. It impressive that LTC managed to remain a dominant player throughout the last 5 years, even as the overall capabilities of the crypto space began to change. Hopefully, Litecoin will continue to fill the key niche of playing the silver to Bitcoin’s gold for years to come.
Exchanges to Buy Litecoin (LTC)
Digital Asset Wallet Ledger, Suffers Data Breach Affecting 1M Clients
As with any situation, there is both good and bad to be found. Based on information released by Ledger, the following make up each category.
- Despite the breach, Ledger indicates that no client financial information was accessed.
- Client funds/holdings are unaffected
- Roughly 1 million accounts affected
- Multiple data points accessed
- Contact information (names, phone numbers, postal addresses)
- Order details
This particular breach occurred when an unknown third party utilized an Application Programming Interface (API) key, to access Ledgers services. This breach occurred on June 25th, 2020, and was discovered on July 14th, 2020.
Data Breaches and Bounty Programs
In an age where data has become one of our most valuable assets, it is not surprising that year after year companies find themselves on the wrong end of a breach. Recognizing this, it has become a regular practice in the crypto community to offer incentives (bounty programs) for hackers and programmers to find weaknesses.
In the bounty programs, companies typically recruit researchers to intentionally ‘attack’ the company’s networks and services. This is done with the purpose of discovering any weak-points and vulnerabilities before those with nefarious activity in mind can do so.
While the illegal breach took place in late-June, it wasn’t until mid-July that it was discovered by someone participating in a Ledger bounty program. As a result, without this program, the breach could have continued unnoticed, with the potential for repeated attempts in the future. In the instance discussed here today, involving Ledger, the merits of such bounty programs are proven.
As it stands, Ledger has deactivated the API key used to access information and implemented the necessary fixes to ensure that client information will not be exploited in this manner again.
Any breach of any kind is cause for concern. With this in mind, Ledger took the time to discuss this recent event, and put their clients’ minds at ease.
“Regarding your ecommerce data, no payment information, no credentials (passwords), were concerned by this data breach. It solely affected our customers’ contact details.
This data breach has no link and no impact whatsoever with our hardware wallets nor Ledger Live security and your crypto assets, which are safe and have never been in peril. You are the only one in control and able to access this information.”
Since they first launched, Ledger products have gone from supporting a select few assets to more than 1000 at the time of writing. It is expected that as this trend continues, we will see Ledger bring support for digital securities as they grow in popularity. Ledger was one of the first companies of its kind to provide wallet services for digital securities when they formed an alliance with now-defunct digital security company Neufund.
With the digital securities sector beginning to pick up, it is only a matter of time before token holders are looking for safe storage of their assets – hopefully, Ledger will be there.
Founded in 2014, Ledger maintains operations in Paris, France. Above all, the team at Ledger works to serve the blockchain industry through the development of various storage and security solutions.
CEO, Pascal Gauthier, currently oversees company operations.